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Custom Decals

3001 Views 31 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Mr Modifier
(First of all, my apologies if I've posted this in the wrong forum)

I want to do some custom decals - rally plates and number boards, to be specific. I've checked places such as Patto's and no-one seems to do the stuff I want, so I'll have to do it myself.

I started by copying JPEG images off the 'net and re-sizing them. The trouble I'm having with that is that by the time I get the images small enough, they've lost most of their definition.

So, my questions are;-
1) Are there any write-ups on DIY decals here for IT-illiterates, such as myslf?
2) If not, is someone able to tell me what format I should be working with the images in, what software I need to working with and where I can get that software?

I could attempt to design my own decals, but I'd still need software I don't have plus a heavy dose of both imagination and artistic ability - which I'm lacking in. I'd be prepared to attempt it if someone could tell me, please, what is suitable software for designing decals from scratch.

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The point of using Inkscape is to give you a Vector image. As soon as you export it and import it into MSWord it becomes rasterised and wastes the work you've done in Inkscape.

The reason why vector images are better is that they are stored as mathematical formulae that the computer can use to recreate the image at any size. The raster images are stored as instructions to recreate the original image size (something along the lines of 3 pixels blue, 2 pixels green, 1 pixel red, 5 pixels off...etc) Hence the great difference in the size of the saved file.

I don't use Inkscape, I use Illustrator, but the methodology would be pretty much the same. Work on an artboard (or whatever Inkscape calls the page) at a size proportional to your final image, in fact of the size of your final requirements is best.
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OK. Now it makes sense what is happening Stuart. The images you are putting together are probably raster images, not vector to start with. 2 choices. Trace or re-create them as vector or use Raster editing software (Photoshop, Gimp, ie. photo editing software) to resize them. They will not resize perfectly being raster, they will lose definition as the information contained is 'averaged' to extrapolate a smaller image.

Vector based images will usually be tagged EPS, PDF, AI, CDR, SVG to name but a few. Raster image formats include JPeG, GIF, PSD, PNG and the like. Bitmap (BMP) can technically be classified as raster, but is even simpler.

When building up a livery for a scale car I do it exactly the same way as I do for a real one. Import a photo of the vehicle into your vector package (place the photo in Illustrator terms). Scale the photo up to full size and build up the livery with logos, colour blocks etc. The pieces will then be at the correct size and can be copied off onto another artboard, rearranged to fit the paper, duplicated etc and printed.

This is an example of how I put together the livery for my current OzRally Proxy Celica.

And this is the finished car.

Note: The race number changed and I didn't use the rally plate as it needed remaking as a vector. It was completed separately.
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Mr M, it's a a fantasy livery from various local businesses all of which I designed the logos for. So, I guess it's a little bit of a 'folio' piece. Alas 2 of the 3 'sponsors' are no longer trading. In fact they ceased the week after the car passed it's tech inspection.
I use the bitmap trace function quite a lot. But there are ways to go about it to make it more successful. The higher contrast and simpler the image the better. I've even gone so far as to trace a complex image in several parts and recombine the results.
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